In a recent group interview at Yamaha Motor Company headquarters in Japan, company president Hiroyuki Yanagi announced plans for the company to enter into the automotive market by as early as 2014 — six years ahead of schedule.
If you’re a motorcyclist or musician, the Yamaha brand is likely very familiar to you. However, the company has a long history building, or designing, engines for the car industry. For example, Yamaha developed the engine for the 1967-1970 Toyota 2000GT, one of the early iconic Japanese sports cars. From there, Yamaha developed a four-cylinder engine for the Toyota Celica, the 3.0-liter V6 for the Ford Taurus SHO, a V8 engine for various Volvo products, and a V10 for the Lexus LFA.
The company’s decision to branch out into whole automobiles is a shock to some, but considering its diverse portfolio of motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, and its various four-wheel ventures, building an entire car may not be much of a stretch. At EICMA 2013, it already unveiled the Tricity urban commuter leaning three-wheeler, which is slated for production by the end of next year.
Yamaha’s first car will be a compact two-seater powered by a 1000cc gas engine. It’s very likely the engine will have little relation to the current YZF-R1, as it is highly oversquare for an automotive application. Not to mention transmission needs are entirely different. The company is also planning to launch a compact electric car as well. There’s no word yet as to whether these cars, or future Yamaha cars, are slated for the North American market.